“We need festivals for young people because it’s the future of the film industry. It’s demystifying it. We need to show routes in, career paths and demonstrate the value of film. We can profile and showcase young people’s work as part of a sustainable programme.” Rhiannon Wyn Hughes, Director Wicked:16, Prestatyn
This section presents an overview of the current landscape of youth festival provision across Wales. It begins with a look at the type, level and spread of activity, before describing specific aspects of the sector garnered from interviews held with festival operators. This is followed in Section 3 by offering identified areas for development and how they can be addressed, concluding with a set of recommendations to take forward.
A map of current dedicated youth film festivals in Wales (see Appendix 2) was compiled from records held by Film Hub Wales, and augmented by desk research. Only Welsh specific festivals that satisfy the definition outlined in the introduction to
this report were included.
Once the initial database had been compiled in depth phone/face to face interviews were carried out with representatives from each of the identified festivals. The landscape is diverse in terms of models and structure, but wherever possible the interviews were carried out with the person responsible for overseeing the operation of the festival.
From this research, six dedicated youth film festivals have been identified, all of which are in current or planned operation. Inevitably, there will be some very local projects, either in an informal youth setting or in formal school delivery which will either be in the form of one off projects (and therefore difficult to track) or are delivered as part of a wider arts programme. This does not include the Into Film Festival which is a UK-wide initiative.
In Wales the film festival landscape has been slower to develop than that of England and Scotland. Indeed, all of the current festivals in operation in Wales are less than 15 years old. Aberystwyth first hosted a film festival in 1989 which eventually moved to Cardiff and ran for 16 years under different names. Its last edition came in 2006 as the Cardiff International Film Festival. The Wales One World Film Festival, founded in 2001, has brought world cinema to a number of venues across Wales and is currently the most longstanding film event in Wales. Ffresh Student film festival is now in its 13th year and showcases the best student work from around Wales.
2006 saw the formation of a new national screen agency, Film Agency Wales, which implemented a film exhibition strategy aimed at growing audiences for a broader range of films. In 2007 the Film Agency, in agreement with the Arts Council of Wales, became the sole funder of film festivals in Wales and released a film festival strategy “designed to support film festivals in Wales that are distinctive and innovative, and contribute to Film Agency Wales’ strategic aims of promoting a vibrant and dynamic film culture”.
Festivals were also able to apply to the Film Agency’s education fund to develop their 5-19 film literacy programmes that were to run parallel to, but considered outside of, the normal remit of the festival. This allowed them to develop specific film education projects utilising the festival programme and encourage interaction with schools and colleges.
The result of this strategy was a net gain in festivals of local significance across Wales all with varying USP’s and themes. This included the Zoom International Young Film Festival in the South Wales Valleys and the Pics Youth Film Festival in Caernarfon. In addition, the Film Agency sought to develop an event of national significance, providing funding from the Welsh Government for the Soundtrack International Film Festival, an annual event celebrating films and music first held in Cardiff in 2008. Soundtrack ran for three years before its funding was cut and was forced to close in 2011.
Film Agency Wales, now Ffilm Cymru Wales, revised its festival strategy following the closure of Soundtrack, which reflected new values including diversity and innovation with the intention “to develop a mixed ecology of festivals in Wales, which will improve access to the widest range of film with the potential for innovation, breadth and depth.” Investment of £60,000 was distributed annually across six festivals on three year agreements “in order to provide stability and assist in leveraging funding, promoting growth and sustainability.” Current festival funding agreements end in March 2016 and details of any further funding are yet to be confirmed. Ffilm Cymru Wales sought to network a number of these festivals to share resources, best practice and programmes. Youth festivals PICS, Zoom and the newly formed Scala Youth Festival in Prestatyn established the inaugural Wales Youth Film Network. The network has struggled to develop however and in 2013 the Scala Youth Festival ceased when the Scala Prestatyn was closed.
Since the formation of the Ffresh Student festival in 2003, festivals/events aimed specifically at young people have developed across different parts of Wales. This is partly due to the film festival strategy and its values implemented by Film Agency Wales, but can also be seen as a positive result of the advances in digital technology and media education initiatives which many of the festivals sought to embed in their programmes.
In Wales there are some 700 participating schools in the Into Film programme and the Into Film festival provides a number of special events including screenings, Q+A’s, masterclasses and workshops in different types of venues across Wales.
Fourteen independent Welsh exhibitors took part in the 2014 Into Film Festival, (2015 results were not available at time of writing) in addition to chains operated by the likes of Odeon, Vue and Cineworld. 17,234 5-19 year olds took part in screening events hosted in Wales, 4.6% of the total across the UK, and special events were hosted at Cardiff Cineworld, Vue Cardiff, Chapter Arts and The Welfare.
Support for film festivals in Wales was widened in 2013 with the establishment of Film Hub Wales, one of the nine membership organisations across the UK that form the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN). Working in partnership with members (which include cinemas, mixed use venues, community cinemas, film societies, film festivals and film practitioners), the Hub “celebrates and supports the vibrant cultural film sector in Wales” with funding totalling £200,000 per year in the period 2013 to 2017. Investment is directed at exhibition projects that “build and sustain connections to education, archive, talent and special events that are informed by audience needs and celebrate our cultural heritage”.
Support for exhibition is provided through the Audience Development strand. Due to the existing funds for festivals in Wales from Ffilm Cymru and BFI, BFI guidelines to Film Hub Wales state that support should not cover core festival activity. Funding support for festivals may cover special projects that demonstrate risk taking outside of the festival dates in some cases, in addition to rolling Welsh film support. Film Hub Wales also work to raise funds for festivals through other sources, such as the BFI Programme Development Fund.
Types of provision
There are 22 Local Authorities in Wales. Youth Film Festivals take place across 11 Local Authorities, although four festivals, Zoom, Pics, Ffresh and Wicked:16 have a particular element that is Wales-wide. This is primarily through filmmaking competitions which are open to any young people in Wales meeting specified criteria. Zoom has the largest outreach programme, expanding its provision over the last 10 years to young people in 6 Local Authorities.
||RCT, Torfaen, Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly
||Wales-wide (in Welsh language)
||Peripatetic (one location per year)
Zoom Cymru, formed in 2006 by Rhondda Cynon Taf Cultural Services, runs its flagship event, the Zoom International Youth Film Festival (ZIYFF) annually, every March, in Bridgend and surrounding valleys towns and “aims to provide a platform for young people to find a voice and tell their stories whilst promoting positive cultural and community values and having fun!”
ZIYFF has become Wales’ leading youth film event and is part of a year round programme of film and media for young people aged 8-25. Zoom’s young film-maker awards encourages young people from across Wales to submit and screen their films. This includes films in the Welsh language. Their programme of feature film screenings is world-wide in scope and brings cultural cinema to young people across venues in the valleys. Zoom also runs a Youth Film Council, composed of young people from across Wales who are interested in film and media. One of their key tasks is contributing to shortlisting and selecting the winning films submitted into the Filmmaker Awards.
Similarly, PICS, established in 2007 by Galeri Caernarfon, began life as a film competition and has since developed to include screenings, workshops and masterclasses over six days for young people in the North West Wales area. Its remit has now changed to focus on developing and showcasing the work of young filmmakers aged 7-25 in the Welsh language. It screened 13 features in 2014, two of which were international and the rest a mix of Welsh and US titles. In this respect is has an important role to play in the Welsh Youth Film Sector being the only festival primarily in the Welsh language.
PICS and Zoom are still part of the youth film festival network and have a joint funding agreement with Ffilm Cymru Wales until March 2016.
Other parts of Wales have also seen youth film events develop. Ffilmic in Llanfyllin, Powys provides opportunities for young people in their locality to make and share films with their peers. The actual Ffilmic festival takes place over one weekend and is a community arts based initiative managed by Arts Connect. Film is a part of their overall programme, and primarily offers young people the chance to make short films through a 10-day film challenge programme. Ffilmic will also programme a non-mainstream film screening for young people in partnership with the local film society.
Ffresh festival is the only showcase of work from FE and HE students in Wales. From its inception in 2003 until 2011 it was situated in Aberystwyth University, but has since become peripatetic utilising different HE campuses across Wales every year. Ffresh features the best student work from Wales, the UK, and abroad, along with masterclasses, panel sessions and workshops with some of the industry’s most renowned and respected figures.
Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival, an initiative of the Pembrokeshire local education authority, has now been in operation for 10 years and was developed to showcase and reward work made over the year by young people in the region’s schools. Although they work with ages 7-18, primary is mainly their focus. They hold an awards and screening event annually.
Wicked:16 is a brand new festival which will run for the first time in Prestatyn in late 2016. Its remit is to showcase the best of Welsh and European youth film work and to encourage collaboration between young people of Wales and those in other countries. Wicked:16 is the sole member of the European Youth Cinema Network initiative.
Wales has a diverse ecology of youth festivals in that no festival is particularly operated or modelled in the same way. They can be categorised as follows:
Table 2.1: Types of festival model
|Sole Venue based (PICS)
|Schools based (Pembrokeshire)
|Community based (Ffilmic, Wicked:16)
|Multi venue/location (Zoom)
|University based (Ffresh)
Youth film festivals are impressive in their diversity and can do any of the following:
- Screen films made for or suitable for young people.
- Screen films made by young people.
- Host a dedicated education programme linked to the curriculum.
- Be industry focused.
- A mixture or all of the above.
Youth Film Festivals in Wales focus primarily on working with young people to make and screen their films. This is to showcase young talent and provide young people with opportunities they wouldn’t normally have access to. There is no festival solely dedicated to screening a wide range of films from around the world made for or aimed at young people, although Pics and Zoom both programme features as a wider part of their festival.
Table 2.2: How would you primarily describe your festival’s USP?
|Filmed made for or aimed at young people
|Films made by young people
Source: Film education practitioner survey, analysis by consultants
“We aim to encourage, motivate, inspire and stimulate children and young people to discuss film and social issues. We aim to increase the diversity of children’s films and enable young people to see films from across the world and learn about other cultures. We aim to broaden young people’s experience of film through film history and culture. We also strive to show UK films made for a young audience.” Rebecca Lee, Zoom Cymru
“We want to get people involved in film who might not normally get involved.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic
“We want to develop connections with global festivals, the youth cinema network and bring the conference to Wales in 2016. The driver is to make international links for our filmmakers and develop programmes with international partners to develop exchange programmes.” Rhiannon Wyn Hughes, Wicked:16
“It’s a way of showcasing work made over the year and a way of running a series of workshops around filmmaking.” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival
“The purpose of the festival is to celebrate the best work being created by the up-and-coming moving image talent from around the world, and to provide a vital link between higher education, further education and the media sector.” Faye Hannah, Chair, Ffresh Festival
“The festival initially was a screening day for a project we did annually – for children from troubled backgrounds with animation. It’s our 10th festival this year and the USP has changed over the years to rewarding young filmmakers 7-25 in the welsh language.” Steffan Thomas, Pics Festival
PICS is the only festival dedicated solely to Welsh language short films. All the other festivals can be classed as bilingual. Zoom has a specific award for the best film made in Wales, not in the English language as well as best international short but primarily its submissions are in English.
Four out of the six festivals are dedicated to showcasing work by young people and therefore source their films via submission to their respective filmmaking competitions. Ffilmic will screen a feature and work in partnership with their local film society to acquire the film. Only Pics and Zoom screen feature films for young people within their main festival programme.
PICS work with the Independent Cinema Office to deliver their screening programme, but have in recent years also acquired content from the Discovery Film Festival in the form of the Shorts for Wee Ones collection, a short film package aimed at pre-school children.
Zoom work with distributors, and carry out their own research to find their films, although this can be labour intensive for a festival with a small team.
“We look at what other children and youth festivals have screened. We also have links with distributors who we keep in contact with for new releases. Most of time we do not struggle to find good films, it can take a bit of digging and research though and of course staff time in sourcing the films” Rebecca Lee, Zoom Cymru
On average, youth festivals in Wales cater for 7-25 year olds, which is a wide range of abilities, skills and competencies. Ffresh Festival is the only festival in Wales to solely focus on students in FE and HE hence the older entry point of 16.
Table 2.3: What ages does your festival cater for?
|Zoom International Youth Film Festival
|Ffresh Student Film Festival
|Pembrokeshire Schools Festival
|PICS Film Festival
Source: Film education practitioner survey, analysis by consultants
Funding for youth film festivals in Wales is more of a challenge than ever in light of recent widespread, significant Local Authority cuts, in which some councils have made 100% cuts to non-statutory services. Denbighshire Council announced wholesale reductions to leisure budgets in 2014 which has already forced the closure of the Scala Prestatyn venue and festival.
Two youth film festivals, Zoom and Pics, are in current receipt of funding from Ffilm Cymru Wales’ festival fund (£15k per annum for 3 years) although this comes to an end in March 2016. Zoom’s award of £10k is almost 95% of their festival budget. Plans for festival funding beyond that date have yet to be communicated, but understandably, there’s always concern for the future when there’s so much reliance on one income stream for a festival.
Other primary sources of funding are ticket sales and in-kind sponsorship. Pricing structures naturally vary from festival to festival depending on local demographics. Zoom Cymru, working primarily in Community First areas, do not charge for screenings but do charge £5 for entry to their filmmaker awards. Ffilmic on the other hand charge for screenings (£3/4) but not for the filmmaking challenge. This income covers the majority of their costs. Pembrokeshire Schools festival try not to charge for any aspects of their programme and is mostly cost neutral.
It should be noted that the Into Film festival does not charge for any of its screenings or workshops and is funded through the BFI’s Film Forever Strategy.
No youth film festivals are in receipt of any funding from outside Wales. Zoom Cymru were successful in applying to the BFI’s Festival fund but were unable to accept it due to timescales. Only one festival, Wicked:16 has plans to apply for European funding to develop its offer.
Table 2.4: Where does your funding come from?
|Ffilm Cymru Wales
|Local authority in-kind funding
Source: Film education practitioner survey, analysis by consultants
Existing Collaboration & Partnerships
Given the precarious financial climate partnerships have become increasingly more important, be they offers of in-kind or financial support. At a community festival level partnerships are naturally very localised. For smaller festivals such as Ffilmic and Pembrokeshire Schools Festival, their partners tend to be local venues (in-kind event support) local authority (in-kind staff time) as well as some regional press coverage.
For the larger festivals there’s an array of partnerships which can be categorised as local, national and European, although primarily partnerships tend to be Wales based or with Welsh arms of UK-wide organisations.
Pics festival takes advantage of its proximity to local TV/film production in Caernarfon with cash prizes for young filmmakers funded by Welsh companies Rondo Media, Bait Studio and Cloth Cat. Pics will also offer the sponsors a session in the festival in return, although there is very little take up of this due to time and availability of expertise.
Ffresh festival has built up partnerships with HE & FE organisations across Wales. It also has strong partnerships with the Media, Film (+VFX), TV, Games and animation industries in Wales as well as the broadcasters. These partnerships will generally be in the form of workshops, masterclasses or networking events. In addition, there are sector organisation partnerships which include Creative Skillset Cymru and NextGen Skills academy which offer advice on career pathways.
Zoom is a BAFTA Cymru approved festival which allows the films screened at the festival to be eligible for BAFTA Cymru Award nominations. It also has links with other Wales-wide organisations such as the Royal Television Society and Creative Skillset Cymru although this is not in the form of direct funding. In 2015 it partnered with the Edinburgh International Television Festival and the University of South Wales to provide a seminar on how to get into the TV industry and also has a number of partnerships with local authority venues and organisations in its catchment area.
Two of the festivals currently work with European networks. Zoom is a member of the Young European Film Forum (YEFF), the only UK representative, which allowed them to send a number of young people to Brussels in 2015 to take part in the YEFF film workshops with other young people from around Europe. In addition, Zoom also hosted a YEFF European conference providing opportunities for media and film educators from the UK to meet with practitioners across Europe to share best practice and develop possible collaborations for future film and media projects.
Wicked:16 is a member of the Youth Cinema Network which meets a number of times a year to promote and advocate youth filmmaking and the screening of films made by young people. This will allow Wicked:16 the opportunity to develop exchange programmes with partner festivals around Europe and programme films made by young people from all over Europe.
Advocacy and Strategic Development
There are many reasons why film festivals dedicated to young people are important. These reasons can vary depending on a festivals USP. These are just some of the reasons given by the festivals interviewed for this report:
“It’s important to celebrate film and encourage young people to appreciate films from across the world, hopefully igniting an interest for the future.” Steffan Thomas, PICS, Caernarfon
“Young people are often talked about as the audience of the future but we believe they’re an audience in their own right now and that it is important to offer a wider, broader and deeper experience with cinema than would be available if festivals did not exist.” Debbie Maturi, Leeds Young Film Festival
“Young filmmakers are making film – they need exposure – why do we make films? We make them for audiences and we need a forum and a platform. We are, because they are” Hermann Greuel, NUFF, Tromso
Youth film festivals also offer young people a number of opportunities to develop not only their creative and critical skills but also gain valuable work experience through volunteering. This can be across general ushering and front of house duties to a more involved role such as programming and curation. Outside of the obvious short term benefits of being part of a festival there are more longer -term benefits for young people.
“We have volunteers and a lot of people have moved on to bigger festivals and events. They use the skills they learn with us to be PR or event producer. Some of them have been choosing that as their profession.” Hermann Greuel, Manager NUFF, Tromso
“Leeds Young Film has always offered work experience to young people who are committed to working in the film industry and we have then worked with them one to one to find other opportunities and to signpost them to other organisations.” Debbie Maturi, Leeds Young Film Festival
Not only that, every festival in Wales interviewed had a successful case study of a young filmmaker going on to develop their passion for film, either via work experience or through higher education.
“We had a young animator who won the animation category two years ago. The sponsors were so impressed with him that they offered to mentor him across 12 months. They funded new equipment for him and arranged work experience” Steffan Thomas, PICS
“We’ve been running the festival for 10 years and we do have pupils and students who have gone on to uni to study film and animation. We invite them back to talk to young people.” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival
“The festival doesn’t offer a direct career path but it does make people understand what’s involved, learn new skills and find they enjoy it and go and study it.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic
In terms of Youth Film festivals working together in Wales, there have been attempts to develop networks, mostly as an incentive to access funding from Ffilm Cymru Wales. Zoom, Pics and the former Scala Youth Film Festival formed The Wales Film Festival Youth Network (TWFFYN) in 2013. Its aim was to increase collaboration between the festivals and allow young people to work together across Wales to create, watch and learn about films.
The network has had minor success so far in achieving those aims and ambitions. Young people from Pics did attend the Zoom festival in 2014 and Zoom and Pics have cross promoted their programmes. However, there is recognition that the network could be more effective. Reasons for the lack of success appear to be down to geography, resources or the fact people move on and do other things.
“There hasn’t been much discussion with other festivals – there’s space to do more – Skype and regular updates is a good way of working – organisation is needed – we need dates in the calendar way in advance.” Steffan Thomas, PICS
“Welsh organisations have tried to work together but in practice it didn’t really happen. It was fragmented. There’s fantastic work going on but all going on in that locality. We need opportunities to come together so we don’t re-invent the wheel. We’ve done enough piloting to develop something you can take off the shelf and apply.” Rhiannon Hughes, Wicked:16
“We did try to collaborate with the Pink Snowball Awards as they were at a similar time in the Calendar but they moved on and it didn’t really happen.”  Sian Walters, Ffilmic
In terms of future network development there is a definite appetite for working together and an overwhelming consensus that a Wales-wide network would be beneficial.
“We would need a network to offer collaboration, partnership, best practice, shared resources and leverage for funding.” Rebecca Lee, Zoom
“It’s good to make connections with others. If young people in Pembrokeshire have access to filmmaking experiences or advice from professionals, then that would be worthwhile” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival
“Be nice to have young people involved in a network. We tried to get young people to Zoom but just didn’t happen. Something centrally needs to happen.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic
“We would want clear objectives as to the purpose and direction of the network. Opportunities for development funding and any opportunities to link with festivals UK and internationally. We are aware of other festivals in Wales (Zoom for example and stand-alone film projects like It’s my shout) we haven’t worked together previously but if there was a mutually beneficial project that supported both organisations objectives we would be keen to engage, particularly if this secured development funding or there was PR / Marketing opportunities.” Faye Hannah, Ffresh
“We would like a network if it can get the films out there to showcase our work. We want to be more outward looking and gaining a wider audience is a great thing.” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival
Given previous networks in Wales have had difficulties in achieving aims and ambitions there are obvious barriers that could prevent a new network being successful such as funding and resources (staff and time). However, there are also less obvious barriers which need to be taken into consideration.
“It’s really about funding and competition – PPV, the internet, Netflix, – We’re now actively investing in renovations to our venue and adding to the experience rather than just bums on seats to compete.” Steffan Thomas, PICS
“Barriers include cost, access to young people, a co-ordinator, people’s time – it actually needs to operate like a network. Resources and capacity within the organisation are tight. We need to bring other partners on board and needs to be seen to be important. Needs investment!” Rhiannon Hughes, Wicked:16
“Barriers include the perception of film. For some reason schools don’t go for dance and film. They will pay for visual arts, crafts, but there are some things they won’t pay for. Film Literacy is still hard to sell.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic
For some there were no barriers and it’s more about the benefits of such a network:
“There are no barriers. We would need to see clear benefits from the outset that supported our organisational objectives – Youth film festivals are often run on a shoe string budget with minimal staff and overhead costs so ensuring the time were able to offer to support this reaped benefits would be key.” Faye Hannah, Ffresh
There was less of a consensus on whether Wales needed a national event to bring young people together to explore small nations/Welsh culture through film. A number of responses reflected on the work already being carried out by festivals in Wales or highlighted non-film festival events that could be potential partners.
“An event to celebrate young people in wales – maybe it doesn’t need to be a festival. You have all these different festivals doing stuff and maybe it needs a showcase event. We’re missing a trick not working with organisations such as the Eisteddfod or the Green Man Festival.” Steffan Thomas, PICS
“It’s essential that there is a national event that brings young people together to explore this kind of thing with training elements, networking opps, film industry, skills, and opportunity to develop European projects.” Rhiannon Hughes, Wicked:16
“We would need to understand how this could support our festival objectives – it could possibly be from an international perspective. USW have their small nations centre and maybe this is something they could seek to develop? We would ask how this would support our Students / Education partners and industry in terms of showcasing their work and development. If developed further, we would be interested to see how this could link in.” Faye Hannah, Ffresh
“If we felt there was something we can take our young people that is bigger than what we do then that would be great. A youth arts festival might be an opportunity. In Wales, if you don’t see something then you don’t know that you can do it or try it.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic
All of the youth film festivals offer Young Filmmaker Awards and these are viewed without exception as extremely valuable to recognise and reward local or national talent. Generally, these ceremonies are occasions or events which attract some press coverage and celebrate young people’s achievements. The size of the overall prizes vary festival to festival, from £10 to £500, but the general consensus is an award alone is enough to incentivise, inspire and encourage young people to make films.
“We do like the competitive side of the awards and we have to have an awards panel so that helps build links between schools and filmmakers, industry. Their title is often enough although there is a cash prize. That’s sponsored by the local paper.” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival
“Incentives are interesting. Some people don’t like the competition idea but for young people it is special and important. Prizes aren’t huge but we share the money out. The kids all come dressed up.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic
“There is a big value in awards – not just cash but we also work with TAPE to offer free editing service or adding soundtrack to music for film.” Steffan Thomas, PICS
A substantial amount of work has been carried out in Wales over the last ten years in the youth film sector, including the development and sustainability of national and local festivals, the roll out of Filmclub (now Into Film) and the funding of education projects for 5-19. Accordingly, there is enormous scope and potential to build on this existing youth film activity in Wales; to maximise partnership working across the sector and wider arts and creative industries and to coordinate activity to build capacity within the youth film sector beyond Welsh borders. The next section of the report looks at where the opportunities lie and makes appropriate recommendations for the future development of the sector.
 In March 2016, during the final editing of this report, the board of ZIYFF announced the festival was to cease operation following its 2016 edition.
 The Pink Snowball Awards was a youth filmmaking programme developed by Film 15 in Machynllth from 2007 – 2012 http://www.film15.org.uk/home/